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Severe cold throughout the country

Bucharest registered -24 degrees Celsius on Wednesday night. Meteorologists warn that heavy snowfalls will resume on Monday.

By    Daniela Baragan

Romania is experiencing one of the worst winters in recent years. Although the blizzard and snowfall has subsided at least for now, severe cold persists. The lowest temperatures are registered in the morning and during the night. A temperature of -24 degrees Celsius was registered in Bucharest on the night of Wednesday to Thursday. Cold temperatures will persist in the following days too, the yellow level alert for severe cold issued on Tuesday remaining valid until Sunday.

According to ‘Adevarul’ daily, maximum temperatures at national level will range from -16 to -6 degrees C in the following days, while minimum temperatures will range from -22 to -12 degrees C. Moreover, it seems good news is not on the horizon, specialists warning that snowfalls will resume on Monday, February 13. Nobody can say now how heavily it will snow or how strong the wind will blow. “If necessary, we will post a warning on the ANM site Friday morning,” ANM Director Ion Sandu said, quoted by adevarul.ro.

Meanwhile the effects of the blizzard registered early this week continue to cause headaches. Thus, yesterday morning traffic remained close on the A2 Highway as well as on 26 national roads. In other areas access was restricted in the case of heavy vehicles. On the other hand, access for all vehicles lighter than 3.5 tons was permitted on National Road (DN) 1B (Sahatel – Buzau sector), DN 61 (Ghimpati – Corbii Mari), DN 5B (Giurgiu – Ghimpati) and DN 51A (Zimnicea – Piatra). At the same time, links with Moldavia, Constanta and Tulcea were reopened but the access of heavy vehicles was restricted. Yesterday the authorities were trying to reopen Bucharest’s southern beltway, between DN 4 and DN 5. The layer of snow there measured a height of 4 to 5 meters.

On the other hand, authorities announced that the Vama Veche border crossing point between Romania and Bulgaria was reopened yesterday morning. The border crossing point had been closed on Wednesday evening. On the other hand, 30 lorries from the Republic of Moldova are still waiting for the reopening of the Albita border crossing point in Vaslui County. Some of them have already waited for 48 hours.

Railway traffic has not fully recovered either. Eight railway lines continued to be closed and traffic restrictions were enforced on 12 others. 165 trains have been cancelled. Of those, 10 were traveling to and from Suceava. The locomotive of a train traveling from Bucharest to Vatra Dornei malfunctioned, the train registering a 147-minute delay. The Transport Ministry announced that no other trains are stuck en route to their destinations as had happened in previous days. The situation is gradually returning to normal at the seaside where almost all Black Sea ports became operational yesterday after they had been closed on Wednesday. An exception is the Midia Port where meteorological conditions do not allow the resumption of port operations, the Constanta Port Authority informed.

The number of counties where schools have resumed has grown to 15. In three counties (Iasi, Buzau, Vrancea) schools are still closed until the end of this week, while in two counties (Braila and Calarasi) schools are closed only in rural areas. Thus, according to a Ministry of Education communiqué, the number of closed schools dropped from 6,667 on Wednesday to 2,952 on Thursday.

310 localities, still isolated by snow and extreme cold

Some 500 localities from 27 Romanian counties are affected by the heavy winter that hit Romania these weeks; 310 of them are cut from the world, with roads and railroads covered by a thick layer of snow. The announcement was made yesterday by the spokesman of the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (IGSU), Alin Maghiar. Out of the 500 affected localities, 179 villages, hamlets or districts suffer from partial or total power outages, 10 have reported malfunctions at their fixed or mobile communication networks, while 11 have problems with securing the running water supply. According to realitatea.net, such problems were reported by Maia, Brazii and Grivita in Ialomita County, which are still buried in snow. People could not leave their homes for the last three days and, to make things worse, they are also deprived of electricity, as blizzard cut the power lines. Another place where things are really bad is Insula Mare a Brailei (Great Braila Island), which has been cut from the world for the last two weeks, since the ferry to Braila stopped operating. Throughout the country, 529 people are blocked in traffic or at home, of which 213 took refuge in shelters made available by the local administration.

45 dead nationwide

A Health Ministry report published yesterday shows that 4 persons lost their lives because of severe hypothermia in the last 24 hours, raising the total number of deaths nationwide to 44. Another death was registered after the report was published. The death was registered in Vrancea County where a 70-year-old person died after the rescue team that arrived by helicopter was unable to resuscitate her. The helicopter nevertheless medevaced a patient from the same locality to a hospital in Focsani. The same helicopter was then scheduled to medevac a 7-year-old child and a man with respiratory problems.

Several national and county roads have been closed in Vrancea County. A severe cold alert is also in force in there. Marian Oprisan (PSD), President of the Vrancea County Council, asked for the second time on Wednesday evening the setting up of a state of alert in the county, stressing that many people there lack food, pharmaceutical drugs and electricity. Mihai Capra, secretary of state within the Internal Affairs Ministry (MAI), nevertheless considers that there might be vested interests behind that request, explaining that a state of alert would allow the procurement of goods and tools without tenders.

Also yesterday, the body of a woman was found buried in snow, about half a kilometer from her home, in the Poiana Ascunsa village of Manzalesti commune, Buzau County. The woman was reported missing Sunday, when she went to a local store to buy food.

Helicopters were to be used to medevac patients from Braila, Calarasi, Ialomita and Tulcea too. A newborn with health problems was among those patients. The day before, a two-year-old girl that had fever was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Gaesti after snow-clearing vehicles battled the snow for five hours.

MAI helicopters have saved 50 patients until now, performing 22 medevac missions in 37 localities.

Severe cold kills 400 people in Europe

The wave of extremely low temperatures has killed around 400 people in Europe in the last 11 days, HotNews informs, quoting Sky News, while AFP is talking about a tally of approximately 500 victims. The lowest temperature in the last 24 hours (-39.4 degrees) was registered during the night in the Kvilda region, Czech Republic. The UN’s Meteo­rological Service warns that extremely low temperatures will persist until March. “The situation is fairly special and it’s a bit surprising how this winter developed. It’s unusual for cold weather to appear so suddenly and to remain persistent in January and February,” Omar Baddour, the coordinator of the climate monitoring programme, stated. According to meteorologists, this is the coldest month of February since 1986.

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